Postmodernity and christianity

swears

preppy-kei
Just kicking around a couple of ideas here, because I am not an expert on either subject by any means...

I saw a documentary about a Christian summer camp on the TV a while back, including a speaker in front of a crowd of young believers bemoaning the "postmodern culture" we live in, how traditional Christian values are being eroded because "people will believe anything that makes them feel better". Having a go at relativism in particular.

Now, surely modernism was a bigger threat to Christian values, as it wanted (on the whole) to demolish irrational beliefs like religion and replace them with scientific enquiry, socialism, objectivism, or whatever else. But this speaker wasn't calling for a return to the pre-modernist era. (I don't think he was, anyway he didn't come across as a fundamentalist) He seemed to be missing the point that postmodernism with it's relativism and tolerance allows him his beliefs in the first place.

Looking through some Youtube clips recently, I saw right-wing US TV pundit Bill O Reilly interview rent-an-atheist Richard Dawkins. At one point in an argument on the existence of God, Bill says "Well, that's my truth, maybe not yours..." Dawkins replying that both viewpoints can't be true, so O' Reilly schools him in relativism by explaining that his Catholism is a "personal truth". (Bizarre to hear him talk like this) Also in his book "The God Delusion" Dawkins recalls an occasion where a vicar and theologian accused him of being "a 19th century thinker" implying that we had all moved on from the convictions and absolute truths (or search for them) that motivated the early modernists.

The thing that these Christians appear to have in common is that they want to have their cake and eat it, they want relativism and tolerance when it suits them, and they want to attack it when they see it as an agent of moral decay, an attack on their values, etc...


Thoughts?

Please feel free to tell me if I'm talking bollox here, btw!
 

vimothy

yurp
They want to be back on top though, don't they? Pre-"moral relativism" it wasn't the case that "Christianity" (a form of Christianity) was proscribed ("postmodernism with it's relativism and tolerance allows him his beliefs in the first place"), rather, Christianity was the preeminent religion of the time. Christianity was more than religion; it was culture, default setting, a given. Postmodernism devloped out of Christianity, not the other way around.
 

swears

preppy-kei
Well, of course they want to be back on top. But they can't come out and say that, can they? Therefore, all this dicking around.
 

rob_giri

Well-known member
First of all, Richard Dawkins is a fucking idiot. Hopefully we're all aware how ridiculous atheism as a religion is by now.
 

crackerjack

Well-known member
Just kicking around a couple of ideas here, because I am not an expert on either subject by any means...

I saw a documentary about a Christian summer camp on the TV a while back, including a speaker in front of a crowd of young believers bemoaning the "postmodern culture" we live in, how traditional Christian values are being eroded because "people will believe anything that makes them feel better". Having a go at relativism in particular.

Now, surely modernism was a bigger threat to Christian values, as it wanted (on the whole) to demolish irrational beliefs like religion and replace them with scientific enquiry, socialism, objectivism, or whatever else. But this speaker wasn't calling for a return to the pre-modernist era. (I don't think he was, anyway he didn't come across as a fundamentalist) He seemed to be missing the point that postmodernism with it's relativism and tolerance allows him his beliefs in the first place. /QUOTE]

Given his audience (as well as the often simplistic preachings of his church) it's quite possible he doesn't understand/isn't aware of the difference. 'Postmodernist' is a much better sneery term than 'modernist', which always sounds kinda hip, no matter how you slice it.

That said, of course fundamentalist Christians don't want to be on the shelf somewhere as a traditionalist alternative to new ageism or Madonna's religion of the month - all of them of 'equal value' - they want to be the whole damn shelf, so to that extent postmodernism is abhorrent to them.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
First of all, Richard Dawkins is a fucking idiot. Hopefully we're all aware how ridiculous atheism as a religion is by now.

Oh for fuck's sake, not this bullshit non-argument again...

'No ice-cream' is not a flavour of ice-cream. Atheism is not a religion. At all. End of story.
 
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swears

preppy-kei
Well, not believing in something isn't a belief! A newborn baby is an "atheist" so the term itself does seem a bit redundant.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
You can argue that it is.

No, I think is fundamentally untrue. Atheism would be a religion if it required its adherents to attend an un-church and un-worship God under the auspices of an un-priest - but this, if anything, would be some kind of Satanism. Atheism is not an active statement of belief in no-God, it is the lack of an active belief in God. It's a subtle but vital distinction.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
One of Dawkins's points is that the natural world is so horrifyingly cruel and ubiquitously unpleasant that no benevolent deity could possibly have been responsible for creating it ("and the whole little wood where I sit / is a world of plunder and prey"). That seems to me to be an active belief in the absence of God, a morally motivated unbelief. A newborn infant (atheist by default) would not have such sentiments. I think Dawkins really does <em>believe</em> that the cosmos is such that a benevolent deity is inconceivable, and worship of a creator not only mistaken but morally obscene.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
In fact, there's a long tradition of atheist critique of religion which doesn't merely dismiss it as a fairytale in which one has no compelling reason to believe, but emphasises its corrupt, violent, authoritarian, perverted and perverting aspects. The interesting thing is that this critique is frequently co-opted by the other side - Bonhoeffer's <em>Ethics</em> quotes Nietzsche quite freely, for example.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
That may be so (I've not read any Dawkins), but that still doesn't make his non-belief in any way equivalent to a religion. He's just a very vociferous atheist who spends a lot more of his time expounding on why religion is bunk than most atheists do.
 

swears

preppy-kei
The problem with the new school of celeb atheists that have emerged over the last few years is that even though they popularise solid arguments against the existence of god and explain how religion can be a divisive, destructive force, they don't actually have any concrete plans to get rid of it. Your average agnostic might be swung by these ideas, but the hardcore (for example) of evangelical christians in the US who have caused so much grief are generally unaffected, and may even be grateful for Dawkins and Sam Harris as useful hate figures.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Oh thank heavens for that! I was worried this thread might degenerate into peurile one-word insults, but now zhao's turned up so the really heavy-weight discussion can continue unimpeded.
 

vimothy

yurp
Your average agnostic might be swung by these ideas, but the hardcore (for example) of evangelical christians in the US who have caused so much grief are generally unaffected, and may even be grateful for Dawkins and Sam Harris as useful hate figures.

Have they "caused so much grief"? Do you really want to convince them not to be religious?
 

Martin Dust

Techno Zen Master
No, I think is fundamentally untrue. Atheism would be a religion if it required its adherents to attend an un-church and un-worship God under the auspices of an un-priest - but this, if anything, would be some kind of Satanism. Atheism is not an active statement of belief in no-God, it is the lack of an active belief in God. It's a subtle but vital distinction.

I think you've got hold of the wrong end of the stick, you could argue that no belief is a belief system and it's nothing like you suggest, this I think you already know - to suggest it has to be anti is just silly.
 
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